PITTSFORD, N.Y. (AP) - William Green took several steps forward Friday in trying to regain his position as the Cleveland Browns' starting running back and his place in the hearts of their fans.
Green, now behind second-year back Lee Suggs on Cleveland's depth chart, broke loose for a long gain during the Browns' first of two joint practices with Buffalo at the Bills training camp site in suburban Rochester. The two teams will hold a scrimmage Saturday. Green's run was impressive enough to elicit a cheer from fans.
''It was good to hear the crowd,'' Green said. ''On the offensive line, everybody did a good job and I took it to the hole.''
Green also caught the attention of coach Butch Davis.
''Our running backs looked good,'' Davis said. ''William Green, in particular, had really good runs, like the inside run this morning where he was able to get into the secondary.''
And it didn't seem to matter that Green fumbled once in the afternoon.
''I don't think that's a problem,'' Davis said.
Green, the Browns' first-round pick in the 2002 draft, is attempting to make a comeback and, in the scrimmage against Buffalo, will line up against his first opponent since October. He missed one game because of a shoulder injury, and the final eight because of a suspension for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy.
The troubles opened the door for Suggs to get his chance, coming off the reserve-non-football injury list, to play seven games last season. He gained just 289 yards rushing, with 186 of those in the season's final game against Cincinnati.
Suggs has come to camp eager to retain the top spot and show that his performance against Cincinnati was no fluke.
''It didn't matter whether I had fresh legs or not,'' Suggs said. ''I'm still one of the fastest people on the field.''
Both backs said the competition for playing time is good.
''It's a nice, healthy competition,'' Green said. ''It's pushing both of us to do better, and the coaches know they have two good running backs.''
Memories of last season are also pushing Green.
''I learned it's not a place I want to be,'' Green said. ''To be off the field, especially watching your teammates play, is something I don't want to experience again.''
Suggs is familiar with competing for a job, having also shared playing time at Virginia Tech with Kevin Jones, now a Detroit Lions rookie.
''The competition is going to be good for the whole team,'' Suggs said.
Right guard Kelvin Garmon agreed, saying, ''I think we're going to surprise a lot of people.''
Garmon, however, didn't give any insight into which running back might win a majority of the playing time.
''I don't even see the numbers,'' he said. ''I just see a guy hitting the hole.''
Notes: Not every Browns player made the trip. Most notable by his absence was unsigned first-round draft pick, TE Kellen Winslow Jr., who remained in Houston working out because his contract negotiations are at an impasse. ... LB Andra Davis was excused to attend his grandfather's funeral in Florida. ... Among those sitting out were WR Frisman Jackson (sore knee) and DL Jamal Reynolds (sore back). AP-CS-08-06-04 2008EDT